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Wisconsin to Follow ‘Hub and Spoke’ Model to Distribute First Round of COVID-19 Vaccine


Wisconsin is set to receive 49,725 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved by the FDA.

Those will be the first of two rounds of vaccine need for immunization from COVID-19.

Those doses are being prioritized to frontline health care workers and long-term care residents.

Within that, DHS is relying on the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee to determine who gets priority.

Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk says they make their recommendations based on population and something the CDC calls the Social Vulnerability Index.

“That modifies a pure population distribution by thinking about the kinds of things that put certain populations at greater risk for disease. Things like poverty, economics, and for this disease congregate settings and the population housing, how many people are living per house,” said Willems Van Dijk.

The index will also help determine who within the top priority gets the vaccine first.

“Things that they may consider is individuals who work in COVID-19 units or the ICU or those that are performing high risk procedures like aerosolization, etc. So there is guidance that was put out for public comment that I believe closed on Friday, not only about the healthcare definition, but the guidance  and information about how to make those really tough decisions when the number of doses doesn’t meet the given need within in an institution,” said Wisconsin Division of Public Health Immunization Program Manager Stephanie Schauer.

There will eventually be enough vaccine for everyone that wants it, but that process will take at least a few months.

The Pfizer vaccine is the one that requires extreme cold storage.

Willems Van Dijk says that is also a major factor in who will get the first doses of vaccine.

“There may be times where we are doing a group of healthcare workers because they are there and readily available and the vaccine is thawed and we need to give it 1,000 people at a time,” said Willems Van Dijk.

The state is using what it calls a ‘hub and spoke’ model for distributing the Pfizer vaccine. Marshfield Clinic will be one of the hubs for our region.

DHS will distribute doses to regional facilities that can store it at the required temperatures.

From there it will go to additional ‘hubs’ to vaccinate people.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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